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Utah protesters take over police station lobby to fight for Teamster murdered by cops

By staff |
May 4, 2018
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Protesters demand justice for Elijah Smith.
Protesters demand justice for Elijah Smith. (Fight Back! News/staff)

West Valley City, UT - Police have been silent since they released footage of Elijah Smith’s murder at the hands of a trigger-happy cop, but there was no silence May 3 as protesters took over the West Valley City Police Department lobby. For two solid hours, chants of “Justice for Elijah!” and “Community control now!” filled every inch of the small space, and when protesters could chant no longer, they shared stories about why they fight police violence and talked about what they think community control should look like.

Behind a counter with glass windows, cops remorselessly laughed and played on their phones while organizers called for justice and explained the long history of WVCPD’s violence and corruption to the crowd. One officer raised his hands in the air and made a disgraceful mocking face while more than 20 people chanted “Hands up! Don’t shoot!.”

UAPB organizer Carly Halderman refused to accept the cops’ disrespectful attitude and pounded on the glass as she yelled “Black lives matter!” She kept everyone’s energy focused and elevated for the remainder of the sit-in, leading chants and telling those gathered that we need an independent, democratic body to oversee and investigate police.

Elijah Smith, an African American, was murdered April 8 while seeking refuge from police who chased him as they searched for a suspect in an alleged robbery. Officials from the department say Smith matched the description of the suspect, though they have not specified exactly what that description was. His family believes that he ‘matched the description’ only because of the color of his skin.

As he fled in fear from a department known for its corruption, Smith entered two houses in the area of 3400 South and Redwood Road. Three WVC officers followed Smith into the second home, where an officer shot and killed him while he tried to comply with their orders to raise his hands. Officials say he ‘rapidly’ raised his right hand. Three unattended young children were present inside the home. Smith died at the scene.

UAPB organizer Jacob Jensen demanded to hear from WVCPD Chief Colleen Jacobs. He pointed out that WVCPD officers simultaneously shot Smith and deployed a Taser, and demanded to know which officer acted correctly.

“They can’t both be right,” Jensen said. “If the cop who used a less-than-lethal method was correct, then the cop who killed Elijah was wrong.”

Chief Jacobs refused to appear and meet with demonstrators.

Organizers said they aren’t done yet and plan on leading more actions until the killer cop is named, fired, charged and jailed.

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